She tried to hide the tears by looking out the window. Her little boy played cheerfully with the toy that came with his meal. But even at two years old, he knew something wasn’t right with his mom. Using a crumpled napkin, he clumsily patted at the tears on her cheeks.
I snuck glances at the woman who wore a pretty blue dress and wondered about her story. Was she coming from a funeral? Had she received bad news about a friend? Had a doctor given her a scary diagnosis?
The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to talk to her, but what would I say? She obviously didn’t want to attract attention. I couldn’t just walk over and ask, “Why are you crying?” without seeming nosy and rude. And I didn’t want to draw unwanted stares in her direction.
So I sat there, mentally debating about what to say while I ate my lunch and chatted with my family. It was moving day. We’d stopped in for a quick bite before unloading the trailer. On any other day, we would have gone to the drive-thru, but the trailer attached to our little car made that a challenge. So we went inside the restaurant—exhausted, dirty, sweaty, and looking pretty . . . disheveled. I hoped I wouldn’t see anyone I knew, and I certainly didn’t intend to speak to a stranger—much less one so nicely dressed.
But there we were. And as much as I wanted to ignore the feeling that I should speak to her. I couldn’t.
With the last French fry gone, it was now or never. I asked Brian to give me a minute, and as he and Jacob left the restaurant, I slipped into her booth. Still not sure what to say, I handed her a clean napkin to replace her tattered tissue. “Is there anything you need?”
She smiled politely and at first said she was “fine.”
Right. Why is that always our first response?
“I noticed that you were upset and was wondering if I could pray for you,” I said.
The words felt unnatural coming out of my mouth, but they were the only words I could find at the moment. Evidently, they were the right ones because her eyes welled with tears again, and she surprised me by opening up.
“His dad is coming to get him today,” she said nodding toward her little one. “He’s never been away from me before.”
I suddenly knew why God had brought us together. I empathized with her hurt and fears. “I know how hard that is,” I said and told that when my oldest child was two and his dad took him for the first time, I was terrified. “I was afraid he wouldn’t bring him back.” She looked shocked and relieved that someone understood a feeling others might have viewed as silly or irrational. But I knew how real that fear felt. When your child is your one ray of happiness during such a dark time, sending him or her away to be with the person who has broken your heart seems like an unjust prison sentence. Your trust is already shattered and you wonder what else—what more—could go wrong.
I listened as she talked about how scared and alone she felt. She told me that she’d moved in with her mom but tried her best not to upset her by crying in front of her. “But I can’t stop crying.”
“I’ve been in the same terrible boat. It never gets easy, but it does get better,” I said.
We talked a bit more, and before I left, I asked her name and promised to pray for her. I did, and continue to do so. Heartbreaks hurt for a long time. Divorces cause wounds that, even when healed, leave scars as reminders. But life can get better. God can do amazing things in your life if you let Him, Prayer is such a help!
I wish we’d exchanged contact information. I wish I’d prayed with her right then and there. But we didn’t. I was afraid I’d start crying if I prayed with her in the restaurant that day. But I do hope that God sees fit to allow us to cross paths again. In the meantime, I hope she remembers that she isn’t alone, that she is loved, and that a stranger is praying for her peace and healing.